Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Duck

I’d read a slew of different recipes and preparations, and none of them quite struck me. For some reason, smoking the duck seemed like the way to go. I’d been experimenting with smoking in the Weber for over a year now, and this seemed like yet another good test.

Prep started on Sunday night. I rinsed the duck off and patted it dry. In a bowl large enough to accommodate it, I combined sea salt, cracked pepper, and dry green tea leaves. In the cavity I stuffed three lemon halves. Another full lemon was squirted over the duck, and I rubbed the mixture and lemon juice to coat the skin. The bowl was covered and put in the refrigerator over night. I also began a soak of three cups of hickory chips in water and hard cider.

The next evening I fired up the Weber. When the fire was intense and the hardwood was at a searing heat, I added more charcoal (hardwood, not briquets) and then added the drained hickory chips. On the clear half of the grill, I put the drip pan and poured in a quarter bottle of cider vinegar. I put the grill top in place and closed the lid to bring the fire down a notch. (This is the one step I could have let go a little longer to get the heat down to a slower smoke.) After about ten minutes, the duck went on.

I took the liquid left from the duck’s overnight sojourn as a base for the brush sauce. I added about a cup and a half of good red wine, a splash of dijon mustard, a tablespoon of olive oil, more pepper and a couple pinches of sugar. I whisked it together and let stand. Thirty minutes in and at intervals thereafter, I brushed it on the bird.

The skin turned a perfect reddish-brown fairly quickly. At two hours, I decided to pull the duck off. The cavity had a fair amount of liquid in it from the fat and the lemons so I used tongs to pour this off in the drip pan.

The result? Excellent. The skin was perfectly crisped, but the meat was moist and flavorful. The salt, lemon, and tea had combined to balance out the smokiness nicely. Served with cauliflower mashed potatoes and a market salad of arugula, purple cabbage, and radishes, it was a brilliant meal.

There are a few tweaks I’d like to make, but this is definitely one to try again.